2010 NHL Free Agency: Capitals sign Eric Fehr, Michael Nylander clears waivers


nofehr.jpgThe Washington Capitals signed forward Eric Fehr to a two-year, $4.4 million contract extension, allowing them to avoid the arduous arbitration process. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported the news.

Fehr, who had career highs of 21 goals and 39 points in 69 games in 2009-10, made $772,000, which means he received almost a 200 percent raise on his previous salary.

Fehr averaged about 12 minutes of ice time per game, so getting just about a point every other game isn’t half-bad.

Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post shares more information about the Washington Capitals’ restricted free agents/off-season in general.

With Boyd Gordon, Jeff Schultz and now Fehr back in the fold, that leaves Tomas Fleischmann as the Caps’ only remaining unsigned restricted free agent.

In other news, Michael Nylander cleared waivers, which isn’t surprising and doesn’t really change anything regarding his status with the Caps.

The addition of Fehr brings the Caps’ salary cap space to about $9.4 million, if my CapGeek.com arithmetic is correct. Washington sports a nice group of minor league prospects, so I must ask: would they be interested in poking around for a mid-level forward? Or maybe they’d rather have a bunch of extra space available for a trade deadline salary dump?

Either way, I like the direction the Capitals are going in. There’s very little fat on the roster … at least now that they got rid of Nylander and didn’t do something foolish like re-signing Jose Theodore.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.